Wednesday, March 27, 2013

7 months

Good golly, Miss ... um, Mabel.  You're seven months old.
"who, me?"
yes, you.
"oh, okay!  YAY!"
You're slowly, but surely, improving sleep-wise.  Last night, all night.  Most nights, you're up once.  Naps .... well, you'll get there.  You're all over the place, kid.  You're rolling and pushing up on your hands and knees and you're rocking and occasionally taking a tiny crawl.  And if my laptop is used as bait, you'll do it, I've seen you.
i saw that.
You're just a doll, everyone says so.  You joined me at a celebratory lunch today for my upcoming birthday and those of two good friends.  And you were a joy.  Smiley and happy to be passed down the table.  Share the love.  You're smitten with the dog.  You're infatuated with foods in the orange group (carrots, sweet potatoes - you're going to start looking like a Hilton sister if we don't watch it).  You're most excited, lately, by wagon rides.  You sit up like a big girl and look all around and I dare say you'd sit there quietly all day long if I just kept pulling.  You know no fear of strangers just yet - everyone gets a smile.  You surprised me, Monday evening, by startling and getting all shaky lipped and teary eyed when I started up my blow dryer.  You've, blessedly, been healthy this past month.  No ER, no meds, but for the occasional dose of Motrin for your sore teething gums (3 teeth!)

You've been a busy girl these seven months, my Mabes.  You've been on planes and trains and Suburbanmobiles, in ten states, and in April, we'll make that twelve (plus Disneyland!)  You go to ballet and gymnastics and preschool and, well, anyplace else your busy family frequents.  You roll with those punches, in typical third baby fashion.  I think you'll be an up-for-anything kind of girl, the easygoing caboose on our crazy train.  Loved to pieces by us all, that much is for sure.
downtown, after lunch with the ladies.
you stole the show, mg.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

on point(s)

So.  At one moment yesterday, after outside time and before lunch time, things looked bleak.  Like nap time might become wine time which might become CPS time.
Womp, womp.  Back talking.  Refusing to clothe oneself.  Back talking.  Throwing five Hot Wheels cars down the (loud wooden) stairs at nap time instead of, you know, NAPPING ... and waking both of the sisters (*&^%$#@).  Baaaaack tallllllking.  So the day was like "lose a point!"  "Lose a point!" NEGATIVE NEGATIVE NEGATIVE.  And also like "WAFER COOKIES.  IN PANTRY."

So then J came home, and it was one of those homecomings that no husband dreams of ever.  "Hi, here's your kids, BYE."  RUN RUN RUN.  And I locked myself in our room and was Shredding (day 10, baby) and it just sort of hit me between sets of squat rows: POSITIVITY.  Focus more on getting points, less on losing points, hope the positive reinforcement of good behavior builds him up and makes him motivated and the negative moments become fewer and farther between.  Because my kid?  When confronted with something negative like losing 9 points before noon?  Is just like "I don't want any of those points things, anyway."  (For real.)  So, a half hour later, I emerged sweaty and with jello muscles, but motivated with a tweaked plan of action.  My boy was in his bed, and clearly not feeling any better than I was about how the day had gone.  There was an actual apology for the naughtiness.  And after we read and snuggled, I broke the exciting news: if he stayed in his bed, without getting up even ONCE, he'd get two points.  Bam, done.  The kid who usually gets out of bed 5+ times to eek out a tiny pee or beg for a tiny drink of water or tiptoe down the hall and smear my best hand lotion on my bedside stand .... he just stayed in his bed.  And woke up VERY excited to watch his two points hit the board.  I wasn't even allowed to put on PANTS first, yall.  POINTS.  And knock on wood, today was so much better.  I mean, he was only home four hours total, what with preschool .... but still.  He got dressed this morning before I even asked once, gladly picked up Mabel's toys from the living room floor when he got home from school, helped clear the table after dinner, was quick to put all the shoes in the shoe closet, even the PINK shoes.  He was clearly motivated by the garnering of the points.  And I hope I can keep him that way because a kind and happy Bug equals a happy mama equals a happy everyone.  A house with more peace than pinot, you might say.  I mean, there's still pinot.  Obvi.  But it's happier!

A big huge thank you to my friends, here and on FB and by text message, who offered up support or tips about what has worked at your house with your wily preschool-aged children.  So appreciated!  Yall (namely, Anne & Lauren & Mary) drove home the positive reinforcement theme and also brought to my attention that smaller daily rewards might be necessary to keep him motivated.  And yes!  Seven points on the board when daddy gets home = a treat.  You're looking at kids who insisted on perching on the front porch to watch for daddy, because daddy = OMG POINTS FRUIT SNACKS!
someone's always blurry.
and someone's always in pajamas.
always.
Oh, and Vivi's in the game, too.  She's hovering around, oh, 10 points at all times.  And wants more points.  MORE MORE MORE.  And the very few times she's had a point taken away it's been like, TOTAL DEVASTATION.   Gosh, wherever would she get her perfectionist tendencies, I wonder?

But baby sister don't need no stinkin' points.  She's just happy to be here.  And all like "hey, anyone going to get me out of my pajamas today?  Oh, it's 6:30pm now?  So no then?  A'ight.  I'll just sit here and look cute."

*And Julie, thanks for the ice cream idea, too!  I love that!  We may do something similar one of these weeks.  Thanks for coming out of Lurkerville to share that.  :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

behavior

Four is not better than three, you guys.  And two being called "the terribles" is, if you ask me, totally laughable.  A two year old is basically still a baby.  A two year old, if stuck in the throes of a tantrum or being deliberately naughty in some minor two year old way, can be picked up, carried to his/her room, and set in there with a baby gate for a time out.  A four year old?  Pfffft.  My four year old doesn't give a hoot about time out.  Or about the twenty other behavior motification tactics we've tried.  I'm not saying my four year old is bad.  He's not - he's loving and funny and tender and melts my heart when he comes into my room at 7:30am and asks for a snuggle.  But, you know, he's a kid and he's four.  He's mouthy, which is new (thank you preschool?) and makes me grind my teeth with frustration, for I never thought I'd hear my kid tell me I'm MEAN or NOT HIS BEST FRIEND or NOT COMING TO HIS BIRFDAY PARTY.  (Who, pray tell, do you think is planning your birthday party, smartiepants?)  He sometimes gets so furious when I won't let him wear his flip flops out into the snow that he chucks a flip flop at his sister's face.  And oh, and you guys, the bickering initiated by the four year old!  About things!  All the things!  All the bickering about all the things!  Who gets to bring the paper in from the driveway, who got their shoes on fastest three Wednesdays ago, who gets to sit by the window on an airplane trip we're taking a MONTH from now, BLABLABLA.  80% of the bickering is done in the car, where separating them isn't even an OPTION so it just goes on and on and on.  Bickering!  Makes!  Me!  Nuts!  Without fail, it ends in the three year old sobbing ("he, he, he, he said he gonna, gonna, gonna fwush my lovey in the toooooooiiiiiiilettttttt!") and the four year old gloating that he's elicited such a dramatic response from the three year old and the mother taking deep breaths and daydreaming about a really long, really quiet, really faraway (CHILD FREE) vacation.  We just have our trying moments lately, is what I'm saying, and I'm sure most of you can relate whether it was the fours or the threes or the fives that ran you most for your money.  (If you've made it to the teens, just don't even go there with me.  I DON'T EVEN WANT TO KNOW.)

And anyway, we need a way to deal with those trying moments.

A way that's not time out.  And a way that isn't taking a toy away, because the time we tried taking his bike away and "giving it to a nice boy" he told us he hoped the nice boy really liked his new bike.  (Huh?)  And a way that's not yelling, because that just makes me feel like an asshole.  And a way that's not boarding school.  Googled it, doesn't exist for four year olds.  (I kid.  I didn't Google it.  It may exist?  Not that desperate.)  (Yet?!?)  And a way that's not lock myself in the pantry and grind my teeth and eat wafer cookies because I'm Shredding way too hard for that and I don't need the dental bills for all that grinding and sugaring, either.  And it really needs to be more on the positive side and less on the negative, because I'm seeing more and more how sensitive this child of mine really is.  I want good behavior, but without risk of breaking his burgeoning little spirit.  You know?  

Enter, behavior chart.  It's the one thing we really haven't given a good try, and the one thing friends (especially teacher friends) and my poor mom who I text at least once a week going "MOM OMGWTF" have encouraged.  He's definitely old enough now to clearly understand such a process, which I didn't think he really was a year ago when the topic first came up.  So, here goes:
please excuse the crap iPhone photo.
thank you kindly.
On Sunday, they're each starting the week with 10 points.  Each point is a circular magnet, seen in the crap iPhone photo.  They'll lose a point for misbehavior, and can gain back a point if I catch an unprompted good deed.  If they have five* points on the board come Saturday, we'll do a special thing or get a special treat.  The fast food joint with the playscape (::shudder::), a DQ blizzard date, a special movie and popcorn night, the like.  (*I chose five points out of thin air.  Does that sound fair and sensible?  Too many?  Too few?  Your input is more than welcome, people!  Particularly if you've ever actually Googled 'four year old boarding school' and lived to tell about the fours.)

So.  Wish us luck.  And please, do share your input if you've tried something similar and have tips or tricks or think I'm going about this all wrong.  I'll report back, I promise.  Just hope it's not from the pantry with a mouthful of wafer cookies clutching 10 "points" I had to take away before noon tomorrow, mmkay?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

crazymaker

Let's be real: third baby be the crazymaker.  Not the third baby personally, she's a doll.  Unless it's 4am and she's screaming, then she's personally the crazymaker.  But I'm speaking, really, in a more general sense.  At our house, at least, the transition from two babies to three babies has been a bit of a sanity setback.  (Okay, plus the move and the new job for J....little much.)  Zero kid to one kid, easy, in restrospect.  One to two, little nutty, mostly manageable.  Two to three, OH MY GOD WE'RE OUTNUMBERED!  INSANITY!  WHERE'S THE BABY?  WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES?  WHY'S THERE PEANUT BUTTER ON MY STEERING WHEEL?  It's a miracle if I make it out of the grocery store without losing one.  Some nights they all sleep, other nights they all take turns waking/barfing/peeing the bed.  If one of the biggies is being compliant and helpful, the other is being willful and crying about something.  And by something I mean everything.  I'm fairly certain that before they come into my room in the morning, they hold a quick summit in the hallway between their bedrooms and decide who's going to be the crazy one and who's going to be the sane one and they take those roles VERY seriously.  And then trade off every other hour so I'm never quite sure which I can trust to wash their hands without flooding the bathroom and/or flush a roll of toilet paper while they're in there.  So I'm dealing with that (rewarding the good biggie with good attention/affirmation and handling the crazy biggie without losing my shit), but I've also got a tiny one who's needing a bottle or her poopy onesie peeled off of her without getting poop on her face or is screaming up in her crib because OMG NAPS >60 MINUTES THEY'RE EVIL!

Phew.  I just wanted to be honest about that.  Because I told a few of you, months ago through emails or conversations, that adding the third child into the mix was no biggie.  That was back when when the new baby slept 23.5 hours a day.  Pretty much I had two kids and a Baby Gap adorned house plant then, you know?  No more.  Three legit children with three sets of legit needs and legit (WILDLY FLUCTUATING) emotions.

Again: this is not a diatribe about Mabel herself.  Oh, no no no.  My goodness, yall.  She's a sweetheart, this third baby of ours.  Mabel on her own?  I'd be blogging twice a day on a blog WITHOUT a dated three year old header and making every meal from scratch and totally would not have an untouched bag of Hobby Lobby goods in the other room, sad little crafts uncrafted.  It's not Mabes, just the outnumbered thing that's the crazymaker.  And you know what?  I fully realize this much - it's short lived, this particular brand of crazy.  It's a crazy worth embracing.  By fall, A & V will both be in school two days a week.  And it will just be me and the Mabes those days.  And I already get a little throat-lumpy just thinking through those quiet days without my big two, because it's sad.  For me.  Not for V, who tells me at least twice a day that she wants a kitty backpack and to wear shoes with "farkles" and some cheese in her lunchbox when she goes to school with her brother.  And then, I'm fully aware, we'll just move onto whole new kinds of crazy.  And new kinds of crazy after that until I'm here spazzing about driving and dating and SATs and cat hair on my bathrobe or something.

Anyway.  There's clearly a lull in posting around here.  We're good, we're kicking ..... it's just the crazy.  Instagram takes two seconds, Facebook maybe three, but there just hasn't been the time to sit and think out and write out and edit and upload and post.  Or, if there has been time, I want to spend it doing other things.  Like exercising or napping after a rough night or eating table scraps or reading the last half of the two week old People magazine cluttering up my coffee table.  Or being outside because turns out Colorado?  Turns out it just doesn't have a bad season.  Fall was stunning.  Winter was cozy.  Spring is PEE YOUR PANTS EXCITING.  (Okay, and muddy.)  We're outside.  A lot.  You see?
first wagon ride.
arms flailing, legs kicking, eyes wide and bright.
if you've ever seen a 4 year old boy who can resist a mud puddle,
i don't believe you.
if she's outside, she's in a helmet.
oh, v.
Hope it's spring where you're at, too.  Or that it will be soon.  There's nothing better than sunny, muddy, can't-get-enough-of-it spring.  Until the lazy poolside days of summer, anyway.  And then the stunning fall.  And then the cozy winter.  WHATEVER SPRING IS JUST FUN IS ALL.

Friday, March 1, 2013

ferber, hoarder, soup

We're going to talk about three unrelated things today.  One, Ferber, and how much I love the Ferber.  As I said over in Facebookland, forget the Biebs, I've got the Ferbs.  Ferber Fever, yall.  Two, a word not to use in front of your four year old, lest it be improperly regurgitated in the grocery store and make you want to die.  Three, chicken tortilla soup.  Wait, I have a fourth thing.  And four, how much I love this picture of my girls.  Totally unprompted, taken without them even knowing I'd walked back into the room and caught them snuggled together like so:
i hope this lasts forever.
it totally will not.
 Vivi loves her sister.  She tells me all the time.  This morning, in the kitchen, she hugged my legs and said "mama, I am so glad I have a baby sister.  I do love her."  I mean, really.

poor, damaged, ferberized baby.
So, Ferber.  I hadn't actually intended to use the method on the first possible day that Dr. Ferber says is okay (6 months) .... but at 4am on Wednesday, I pulled the trigger.  Mabel had been up hourly, or every other hour at most.  Since 8pm. Ohhellno.  So at 4am, when I went in and ensured she didn't have a leaking diaper and didn't have an appendage caught in a crib bar or a cat on her face or what have you, I declared it Ferber Time.  Most of you know about this, but if you don't, it's a sleep training method where you check in on baby every so often, but without picking up or feeding, because FOR SERIOUS, no six month old needs to eat every hour at night.  Sorry, no.  There was crying.  And it was awful.  But?  You guys?  For the first time EVER our baby is putting herself to sleep in her crib.  And last night?  Dare I say it?  She slept from 8:00pm (after about twenty minutes of crying and check-ins) until 8:30am with very little disruption.  I'm not even kidding.  She woke at 4:00am, but before I could even get out of bed, into slippers, and down the hall .... silence.  Back to sleep.  Then she did wake at 5:00am, and I fed her, and I set her back down, and by the time I was under my covers back in my room ..... sleep.  And she's napping.  In her crib.  Where I set her down fully awake at nap time.

As for the second topic of conversation.  Do not, no matter what, call your three year old a "hoarder" in front of your four year old.  Even if your three year old totally IS a hoarder whose underbed, at any given moment, is hiding ripped up coloring books and 2,452 ponytail holders and barrettes and shoes that haven't fit since two summers ago (where did she even FIND those?) and the like.  Hoarder extraordinaire.  Because if you DO call your three year old a hoarder and your four year old is listening, then an hour later, when you're in the (quiet) grocery store, your four year old might turn to your three year old and go "hey, Vivian, you a BIG HOARDER".  Except, in four year old speak, hoarder is going to sound like something else.  Something very inappropriate.  And you're going to want to run and hide but you can't exactly run or hide with a baby in an Ergo, a cart full of food, and two preschoolers.  You could try, but you're not going to get very far.  Just keep your head down, pay for your food, and go.  Just go.

soup fixins.
Finally, the soup.  I posted about it being chicken tortilla soup day on Instagram.  My very favorite kind of day, it is!  It's so good!  And so easy!  Or, as easy as you want it to be, really.  There's no "real" recipe, I just mixed things together until I got the results I wanted the third time I tried.  Here's what I use:
-chicken broth
-one packet of taco seasoning
-diced peppers (red and green)
-diced onion (I only use about 1/2)
-diced tomatoes (prefer to use fresh, but canned are fine)
-diced, cooked chicken (today I used a bag of the pre-cooked fajita chicken)
-optional: cream of chicken soup (I usually use, did not have today, soup is obviously thinner but just as tasty when I tested it out just a bit ago!)
-optional: chopped jalepenos.  My spice-loving Texan husband says yes, my kids say no.  It was a no today.

Chop up what needs chopping, toss in the crock pot on low, leave on for about 6 hours.  Top with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, whathaveyou.  Light a candle because your house smells like chicken tortilla soup which actually tends to smell a little like BO when the whole house smells like it.  You know?
tgif, yall.